Shelton to host memorial honoring fallen soldiers

Shelton-based Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 has announced that the Veterans Athletes United Global War on Terrorism Fallen Heroes Memorial will be arriving in the city on May 12.

Shelton-based Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 has announced that the Veterans Athletes United Global War on Terrorism Fallen Heroes Memorial will be arriving in the city on May 12.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 will become a temporary memorial site for a few days next month.

A memorial honoring those who died fighting insurgency groups overseas will be making a stop at the Shelton-based post from 11 a.m. on May 13 until 7 p.m. on May 15. Fallen Heroes Committee member Kelly Stanton said the Veterans Athletes United Global War on Terrorism Fallen Heroes Memorial be arriving on May 12.

“For three days in May a small portion of Post 16 grounds will become sacred,” Stanton said.

“There will be photographs along with bios for each of Connecticut’s casualties in the global war on terrorism,” Stanton added. “We invited the public to take a few minutes to visit, learn the names of Connecticut’s KIA (killed in action), look at their pictures, learn who they were and help us remember these fallen heroes.”

This 28-foot wide by 6-foot-tall American flag symbolizes the shape of the flag when draped on a fallen service members casket. It is formed of approximately 7,000 dog tags.

There are 50 gold stars honoring all gold star families nationwide. Displayed in front of the flag is a battlefield cross sculpted from mahogany wood by veteran artist Alicia Dietz.

Tags are in alphabetical order from Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2019. Thereafter the tags are in chronological order of the date the service member was killed in action. As the fighting continues, the group will continue to fill in the blank tags at the end of the flag.

The memorial will arrive in Shelton on May 12. At 3:45 p.m., the memorial will be escorted by 22 motorcycles from the Shelton Police Department down Meadow Street to Perry Hill and then up Bridgeport Avenue to Shelton Post 16, where it will be assembled.

For its memorial flag the group used the defense department’s casualty list to acquire the names for those listed on the memorial. For more information, visit vetsau.com/memorial.

The opening ceremony will be May 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with Amy LaReau Battaglia singing the national anthem, followed by a welcoming address and reading the names of the Valley’s service members on the memorial — Army First Lt. Thomas J. Brown of Shelton and Army Sgt. David Travis Friedrich of Naugatuck — as wreaths are placed in their memory, followed by a rifle salute and taps.

Brown, born in New Haven on March 13, 1982, was killed in action on Sept. 23, 2008 in Salman Park, Iraq, when his patrol came under small arms fire. Brown graduated from George Mason University in 2004 with a degree in government and international politics and joined the Army in 2005.

Brown’s unit deployed to Iraq on April 3, 2008. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantry Badge posthumously.

“There is not a lot of mention of those that are killed in action during the global war on terrorism over the last 20 years,” Stanton said. “Being a fellow Afghanistan veteran, this is important to honor our fellow veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Also, unfortunately, my husband went to high school with one of the 65 names from Connecticut honored on the memorial. It is great honor to be a part of the American Legion Post 16 committee that is bringing this memorial to Shelton,” Stanton added.

The closing ceremonies will be on May 15 at 5 p.m. and will include the reading of the names of the 65 Connecticut casualties, while Girl Scouts from Troop 60481 place a flag for each casualty in their memory and present a flower to each Gold Star family in attendance, followed by a rifle salute and taps.

Post 16 will be assisted during closing ceremonies by the 198th Army Band. The band is based in Rochester, N.Y., and is part of the 99th Readiness Division. The soldiers who make up the reserve band are from all over the country and play their instruments in addition to their full-time job.

The 198th Band connects the public to the Army by telling the Army story and honoring soldiers and veterans as musical ambassadors.

Stanton said this was set up by post members in September of 2021. The post first conducted a review of what the cost both in money and labor would be to bring the memorial to Shelton.

“We then reached out for funding, and we were blessed with substantial assistance from the Valley Community Foundation,” Stanton said. “We set up teams of volunteers ranging from site coordinators, ceremony organizers, escort coordinator and many more teams.”

The labor part of the project was pretty simple, Stanton said.

“When you pull a group of veterans together to accomplish a mission, they all fall into step and make it happen as part of a team,” she said. “This brings back the tight-knit team feeling that we had back in the day when we served.”

Counselors from the New Haven Vet Center will be available on site during the day for those who wish to talk, and security will be on site for the duration of the memorial to allow those who prefer to visit in the evening a quiet time to reflect. Visitors are urged to carpool if possible.

“We hope the memorial assures veterans and their families that we honor their dedication to our country,” Stanton said. “Out of about 7,000 dog tags, there 65 dog tags on this memorial in memory of 65 sons and daughters of Connecticut.

“Their country called, and they gave the fullest measure of themselves,” Stanton added. “We owe them; as well as their loved ones and battle buddies that they left behind our deepest gratitude for their sacrifice. This memorial is the least that we can do, as grateful community to recognize Connecticut’s global war on terrorism casualties.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com